We walked down the stairs of a decaying mill by the river with the sun shining in a cloudless, blue sky. Out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed a vine creeping out of the spaces in a broken wall and climbing, or maybe cascading, along the grey, crumbling bricks. Inexplicably, I reached out and touched it, gently, my fingers barely dancing across its feathery leaves. I didn’t grasp at it, pluck it, or try to brush it away. I grazed it as the wind would, a slight breeze that would barely stir it from its place of rest. I didn’t want to change it, to leave it any different than it was when my eyes fell upon it. I only needed, for one moment, to feel it, to know if it felt as beautiful, as alive, as gentle and free, as it looked.
He stopped me then, and said, “It might be poisonous.”
Like a naive child, I asked, “Really?”
“It’s beautiful,” he said, “but sometimes the most beautiful things in life are poisonous and will only make you itch.”
Continuing down the rickety stairs, I glanced back over my shoulder at the healthy green vine cascading down that broken wall and fought the urge to reach out and touch it again. I knew it might be poisonous, but it was a chance I was willing to take to feel its gentle life on my fingertips.